KEEP­ING THE TREKKING ROUTES CLEAN

Business Bhutan - - Editorial - The writer is a Jour­nal­ist and Hik­ing En­thu­si­ast SONAM DEMA

Not un­til I started hik­ing and trekking in the moun­tains of Bhutan, I re­al­ized how beau­ti­ful our moun­tain trails are. Also trav­el­ling to other coun­tries has rather con­vinced me that Bhutan’s land­scapes are more pris­tine, and a beauty.

How­ever, I have been equally dis­ap­pointed to see how we are al­ready pol­lut­ing var­i­ous hik­ing routes with plas­tic waste, bot­tles and cans. When I saw a pile of plas­tic waste scat­tered near a scared lake along the Druk­path ear­lier this year, I won­dered what kind of per­son would lit­ter such sa­cred places and still not feel guilty. It takes days of walk­ing to reach these places.I felt a sense of anger think­ing how un­civ­i­lized we hu­man can be at times. These trashes are not even heavy to carry them back.

Just re­cently, I com­pleted a two week’s hike to Jo­mol­hari, Jan­gothang base camp. It was a pleas­ant hike ex­cept for walk­ing on muddy-peb­bled route for two days. But these are nat­u­ral hin­drances, chal­leng­ing yet a loved ex­pe­ri­ence for hik­ers. How­ever, what was most up­set­ting was to see elec­tric poles erected along the route, al­most till the end of the jour­ney. As a na­ture-lover for my part, it broke my heart to see such eye­sore against the (oth­er­wise) nat­u­ral spec­tac­u­lar land­scape. Well, this is a long de­bated is­sue. These poles are there to stay and all we can do is ig­nore them like they never ex­isted.

It might sound non­sen­si­cal but it re­ally was de­press­ing to see con­crete struc­tures like toi­lets and kitchen halls built right in front of the Mount Jo­mol­hari peak view. These struc­tures stood promi­nently in-be­tween the be­hold­ers from wher­ever you stand or camp in Jan­gothang camp.

I wish they had built these struc­tures at the other side of the camp, not right in front of Jo­mol­hari peak. Be­sides, there is so much space around the camp.

Worst still, most of these toi­lets are blocked and out of use. This made some of the campers, es­pe­cially tour guides, cook and horse­men, to lit­ter around the stream area and the ru­ins of an old fortress at the camp.

First day when I ar­rived there, I was ex­cited to see the ru­ins, scenic with Jo­mol­hari in the back­ground. I kept vis­it­ing the ru­ins next day only to see more hu­man fae­ces, used tis­sue pa­pers and others. I was sad­dened to re­al­ize the area around the old fortress has now be­come an open toi­let.

I hope the care­tak­ers at Jan­gothang re­store these toi­lets. If not, I wish they dis­man­tle the struc­tures and build them, on the oth­er­side, with­out com­ing in-be­tween the be­holder and Jo­mol­hari peak.

Bhutan has such beau­ti­ful hik­ing spots and moun­tains; lets keep them cleaner and make them bet­ter.

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